UPDATE: October 18, 2013
At least four parents tell KAKE News they hope the suspension of the Country Cottage Daycare license will mark the end of that daycare business.
The parents called KAKE News after our original story aired Thursday night. The parents recounted their past negative experiences with the daycare. None of them had children registered with the daycare at the time of the license suspension.
The state issued an emergency order Wednesday to suspend the daycare's license. Inspectors say that when they visited in response to a complaint, daycare owner Heather Post had "slurred speech." They say they also found weapons and hazardous chemicals were easily accessible to children.
All four say they pulled their children from the daycare after noticing Post "wasn't acting normal." The reasons they gave ranged from their belief she was intoxicated to verbal arguments they say they observed Post having in front of the children.
Two of them say they did file a complaint with the state at the time when they pulled their children.
One parent, who we will refer to as "Nicole" to protect her identity, says last year she took her child there for a few weeks. She says at first everything seemed fine.
"She had a nice house, lots of land, nice back yard, play areas for the children. She was very polite and professional," Nicole said. "We thought it'd be a great fit for our family."
But she says very quickly she grew uncomfortable with Post and how she took care of the children.
She removed her children from the daycare.
"I think the thing that got me the most is when I went to pick them up and they were outside in the cold snow, it's freezing. That's kind of what drew the line for me," Nicole said.
Nicole says she did research and interviewed at least five daycares before choosing Post's. She also called Post's references and talked to other parents.
But she admits she was a new mother searching for a daycare for the first time and she probably didn't know about some of the resources available.
"As if every other responsibility of being a parent isn't overwhelming this one is, too. But there are great tools out there that will help parents," said Teresa Rupp, Executive Director of Child Start.
Child Start is a local organization that seeks to prepare young children for lifelong success by providing resources to parents and child care providers. Rupp has led the organization for more than 30 years.
She says a great online tool for parents to start with is the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) search engine. She says parents can use it to find state inspection reports on any day care. Rupp says another great resource is the "ChildCare Aware of Kansas" web site.
"Had we have known that we could go online to these particular web sites and we could find the complaints, we definitely would have," Nicole said.
But there's only so much that can be done behind a computer screen.
Rupp says it's vital to do as Nicole did and pay a visit to the day care.
"It's important to go out, look and to ask questions," Rupp said.
A list of sample questions along with other resources are available on the Child Start website.
Rupp says once you choose a day care, pay a follow up visit.
"I'd like to know I could drop in whenever I wanted to and I would drop in," Rupp said.
Ultimately you have to trust your gut instinct to know if it's the right fit.
"You as a parent, know your child the best," Rupp said.
Nicole and the other parents who contacted KAKE News say they're thankful they trusted their gut instinct about Post.
"I just hope that parents are very, very aware and doing the checks and making it a top priority before you do just go and select someone to watch your children," Nicole said.
ORIGINAL STORY: October 17, 2013
A Derby home day care has had its license suspended after an inspection by state regulators. The Kansas Department of Health & Environment issued the emergency order to Country Cottage Daycare at 9550 S. Bluff.
Inspectors went to the home Tuesday in response to a complaint. A KDHE report said the daycare operator "had slurred speech, her hands were shaking, and she had difficulty answering questions." She admitted to drinking alcohol and taking a Xanax the night before the inspection.
Inspectors also found weapons, tobacco products and hazardous chemicals that were accessible to children.
The report added that a man prohibited from working or living in a day care home was asleep in a bedroom. Two children were in the home during the inspection.
The day care's operator, Heather Post, admits there were some violations but says many of the accusations are false.
She says the complaint that brought the inspectors to her home were likely filed by her ex-husband or her boyfriend's ex-girlfriend, both of whom she says have been intensely harassing her.
"He (my ex-husband) knows my (day care) children are my life and he is going to take them from me because he told me I was not going to leave him," Post said.
She says she did have a wine cooler and a Xanax the night before the inspectors came to her house. She says given all the harassment she's been subjected to, she needed something to sleep.
Post admitted she is on probation following a DUI about a year ago.
She says she also acknowledges that she keeps a firearm in the home but she says she keeps it locked in a bedroom where the children can't get to it.
"I do live out in the country by myself so I do have a gun," Post said.
She also says she knows she shouldn't have had her boyfriend sleeping at the home while there were day care children present. She says he is not supposed to be there because of a misdemeanor battery charge he had years ago at age 15.
However, she says any accusation that she has been intoxicated while caring for children is false. She says the day care is her passion and livelihood and she'll fight to get it reopen.
"I don't want to give up," Post said. "I can't."
According to the report from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Post does have the right to request a hearing with regard to the observations that triggered the emergency order of suspension.